CHICAGO MAGAZINE: Great Dining 2000

BUDGET BEAT

There must be a special restaurant gene germinating in Aumphai Kusub's family tree. Her brother, Ting, owns the popular Always Thai in Lake View. This past spring, Aumphai, or Add, as she likes to be called, opened Thai Pastry & Restaurant (4925 N. Broadway; 773-784-5399) just off the Argyle strip. Prettily decorated in soft pink natural wood, and a variety of authentic handicrafts, the tidy spot offers alluring rainbow-hued sweets, which beckon from a display case near the door (pictured here). Add makes then all, from the dainty marzipan-like fruit fashioned from bean paste to kanom beung, crisp half-moon-shaped cookies folded around orange-tinted sweetened coconut. "Lots of work." she says with a laugh, "and no chocolate chips." But before toting home dessert, settle down for delicate pot stickers plump with savory minced pork ($4.95), very fresh spring rolls swathed with a light tamarind sauce ($3.95), and tender chicken satay paired with diced cucumber and an oily but addictive peanut sauce ($4.95). Most entrees on the extensive menu sneak in under $7, and for a buck more, meals include a big bowl of moist rice--perfect for sopping up sauces. Pad Thai is a full-bodied, almost syrupy rendition; for the adventurous there are curried eel and garlicky frog legs. No liquor is served , but Thai iced coffee can be counted upon for a benevolent buzz.